West imposes sanctions after Crimea vote
March 18, 2014, 12:10 am TWN
WASHINGTON/SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- The European Union on Monday sanctioned nearly two dozen Russians and Ukrainians deemed responsible for the breakaway referendum in Crimea. The United States on Monday also imposed financial sanctions on seven top Russian government officials and lawmakers to punish Russia's incursion into Crimea.
Official results from Sunday's disputed referendum showed 96.77 percent of voters in the mostly Russian-speaking region of Ukraine opted for Kremlin rule in what would be the most radical redrawing of the map of Europe since Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.
In a new executive order, U.S. President Barack Obama also imposed sanctions against former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and one of his top advisors and two top "separatist" leaders in Crimea.
The moves cemented the deepest confrontation between Washington and the Kremlin since the Cold War, and came as Crimea took several steps towards joining Russia a day after voting to do so in a referendum the West has called illegitimate.
Senior U.S. officials said the sanctions were designed to punish "cronies" of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government who were intimately involved in the move into Crimea.
The list of officials who will see any property, assets and interests blocked in the United States includes Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister, and several senior members of the Duma and advisors to President Vladimir Putin.
They also included Vladislav Surkov and Sergei Glazyev, key aides to Putin and Duma members Leonid Slutsky, Yelena Mizulina.
Federation Council members Andrei Klishas and Valentina Matviyenko are also targeted.
The officials targeted in Crimea include Sergei Aksyonov, who has named himself the interim prime minister of the territory and Vladimir Konstantinov, the speaker of the Crimean parliament.
Any assets of Yanukovych and Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of the pro-Russia "Ukrainian Choice" faction, in the United States will also be seized, the White House said.